The Boston Marathon and the Pain You Can’t See

Again this week my writing was interrupted by tragedy. I mean to say not that the tragedy inconvenienced me, but that I was so wrapped up in my own writing that I almost missed it. I was sitting in my home office, a little “cubicle” in our dining room, when my husband texted, “Bombing in Boston. Turn on the TV.”

Since the bombing yesterday, I don’t know how many times I have seen the video replayed, how many interviews with eyewitnesses, how many commentaries on what it all means for our country.

This morning I again turned on the TV and saw a psychologist giving advice about how to talk to your children about such tragedies. I saw that support centers had been set up, hotlines put in place. And I knew we would be hearing about this for a long time.

However, rather than thinking about the losses the victims suffered yesterday, I found myself thinking mostly about the difference between dealing with physical versus emotional tragedies, or losses. And how one is more acceptable to acknowledge than the other.

And now I’m trying to work up to some poignant point about how it’s not fair—it’s not fair that people who have been wounded physically get to air their pain so much more freely than those who are wounded emotionally…but even as I think about writing that, the naysayers in my head start: “This is not the time to air your agenda.” “Show some compassion!” “How can you be so heartless!” “Did you really just say that?!”

Yes, I did.

In no way do I want to diminish the pain of yesterday’s victims (who will no doubt also suffer emotional scars), but when things like this happen, I must admit, I get certain thoughts…and certain questions that make me feel I must be a monster.

Readers, can you tell me, do you ever have these thoughts, too?

When these heinous crimes are committed, and it creates a media aftershock as sweeping as the Boston blasts, do you ever wonder how your life would have been different had it been a physical wound you’d suffered, rather than an emotional one?

Do you wonder: Had your wounds come from a public, graphic, physical injury, would you have healed sooner? Would you have had more support? Would it have been easier to survive, because you had so many at your side? Would it be easier to talk about just because there was no way to hide? Here I want to make a distinction between those who lost limbs and those who lost loved ones—I believe there is an important categorical difference between the two types of tragedies. (Or is there?)

What if I put it like this: Would you rather suffer from a physical malady than from an emotional or a mental one? Finally (and I may regret asking this), am I a monster for even raising such questions at a time like this? Please share your thoughts! (And yes, mine go out to the victims of yesterday, along with my prayers.)